When the Devil Smiles……
By Chuck Semenuk
Angus Guthrie was becoming frustrated with his attempts to place a long distance telephone call to his old friend Alistair Smythe. Communications between the little hamlet of Cairndora, Warshire Scotland and London, England left much to be desired. Finally, the London operator told him to hang up and she would call him when she was able to reach Smythe. Angus angrily slammed down the receiver and walked to the bar, pouring himself a draught of cold ale. “If ye drink enough o’ that, ye won’t remember what ye wanted tae say tae yer friend when ye finally get ‘im,” laughed Angus’ wife Sarah as she came from the kitchen with an order of food for the guests seated in a far corner of the pleasant dining room. “A’m not in the mood, woman!” growled Angus.
Life in Cairndora had been idyllic for the past five years. He vividly remembered the night that he helped his good friend Brian MacNain exorcise the terrible MacNain curse and his nephew’s possession by Black Donald. After all that time, it now seems that the dreaded Black Donald has returned to terrorize the town’s citizens. The local constable was at a loss. The discovery of one or two new dead bodies a week was more than he was able to deal with. Major crimes had been nonexistent in Cairndora during these last years. Angus knew that the town would need expert help to get life back on an even keel again. The only person Angus could think of was another old friend, Alistair Smythe.
As Angus took a deep swallow of ale, he heard the telephone ring. “Angus, It’s yer friend Mister Smythe from London callin,” hollered Sarah. Angus quickly ran to the phone. “Smythe, ar ye thaur?”
“I’m here, old chum. It’s been a long time since we’ve enjoyed a few mugs of ale together. Good to hear your voice again,” replied Smythe.
“A’ll get richt tae it, Smythe. We need yer help. Hae ye heard the tale of Black Donald?”
“If I remember right, it’s what you Scots call the Devil. If you see him, he takes the form of an old man in a black suit; except that he moves about on cloven hooves instead of human feet. I can’t say that I believe the tale. I always thought it was a legend concocted by an old grandmother to keep the children from misbehaving.”
“Ye got ‘im awl richt, Smythe. A can tell ye from ma personal experience that auld Donald is real,” exclaimed Angus. “A canna explain aur problem fully on the telephone. It also includes a family curse on my friends the MacNains. A hae a proposition fer ye. A ken ye and yer friend Miss Fienbody enjoy a guid mystery. If ye can help us, the Missus and I can provide ye with food and lodging here at the Inn fer as long as ye want.”
“Hmm. It certainly sounds intriguing. I’ll have to speak with Fienbody first. Is the train still the best way?”
“Aye. If ye take the train from London to Dundee, A’ll hae a motor car pick ye up at the station an bring ye to Cairndora. If ye ar comin, send me a telegram whit yer train time.”
“I will do that, old friend. I’m sure that we’ll see you soon.”
“Guid bye, Smythe. A hope ye can come.”